Were I a betting man, I’d wager that a fair proportion of you have eaten out at a Korean restaurant, or better yet, have had the privilege of a home cooked Korean meal. However, how many of you have actually cooked a Korean dish at home (Shin Ramen doesn’t count)? Have you ever wanted to learn how to?
Thanks to the Korean Cultural Office, I was fortunate enough to attend one of their Korean cooking classes.
Continue on to find out more about the Korean Cultural Office, the Korean cooking class and how you can be in the running to win an opportunity to attend one of these classes free of charge.
The Korean Cultural Office (KCO), located near Hyde Park in Sydney’s CBD district, is the epicentre of an initiative to educate and promote various aspects of Korean culture to the general public beyond that which most Australians are likely to be familiar with. Namely Korean BBQ, kimchi and Tae Kwon Do.
Established only in April of this year, the KCO is a compilation mix track of Korean culture. There’s a small museum-like display of some traditional Korean instruments, weapons, crafts and artworks; a small library of books & DVDs; not to mention classroom facilities to teach various cultural classes such as Korean language, arts & crafts, K-Pop (??) as well as a kitchen for Korean cooking classes.
A yearly membership to KCO is available for $25. Benefits include free access to Korean language classes, significant discounts to other classes, exclusive invitations to events not available to the public and so on. A complete list of benefits and the sign up form can be found on the membership page. If you’re looking to attend more than one cooking class within a period of a year, the membership more than pays for itself.
Speaking of the cooking class…
Heather Jeong, professional caterer, recipe writer and cooking instructor; local guide for Maeve O’Meara’s Gourmet Safari Eastwood Korean food walks; and all round nice person runs the Korean cooking classes. The kitchen, with its decal of various Korean cooking utensils along a feature wall, is a small intimate space that’s only large enough to cater for, say, 6-8 students at most.
The class operates at a casual, leisurely pace with plenty of attention to each student due to the small class size. Heather does a great job not only as a cooking instructor but also as an advocate for Korean food, introducing the various ingredients, condiments & tools that are commonly used in Korean cookery.
Each recipe, of which there are usually two to three per class, are walked through step by step from the preparation of its mise en place to its final cooking stage. The recipes are simple and straight forward, requiring little in the way of prior cooking experience or skill.
For the class that I’d attended, there were two recipes that we’d learned.
The first was the beloved Daeji Bulgogi, more commonly known as Korean BBQ Chilli Pork. This has to be one of my favourite Korean BBQ dishes, second only to galbi aka Korean BBQ beef ribs (and a very close second at that).
Heather’s version of chilli pork was a fairly standard version of the dish. It’s hard to go wrong when pork belly is involved :)
The other recipe of the day was Haemul Pajeon, which translates to Seafood Spring Onion Pancake. The seafood pancake is made up of various seafood such as prawns, calamari, scallops and some other shellfish which had slipped my mind, though it can be made up of whatever seafood that you have lying around.
The seafood pancake is served with a soy-based sauce that incorporates a sprinkle of Korean chili powder gochu garu. It’s somewhat like hot paprika in that it’s fairly pungent but not all that spicy.
The end product was better than most restaurant versions I’ve had. A little tempura flour added to the mix gives the savoury pancake a nice crispy base.
There’s more to the lesson than just the two or three recipes scheduled to be taught during the class. A small meal is served towards the end of the class, introducing the kaleidoscopic cornucopia of Korean side dishes collectively referred to as banchan; the cornerstone of almost every Korean meal.
Along with various traditional banchan, including a variety of kimchi, sauted kimchi fried in butter was also offered. To be frank, I was initially offended by the idea of such a bastardisation of a traditional dish that usurps Korean sesame oil for a knob of butter. However, it actually ended up tasting pretty good. Much the same taste as the sesame oil version but without the toasty, sesame notes.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time during the class. Whilst I was fairly familiar with the preparation of these dishes, there were still some little things that I’d learned to help improve my Korean dishes.
Ok, time to announce the competition, which has nothing to do with this somewhat spooky display with accompanying eerie ambiance audio and video projection of leaves falling, or something like that as I didn’t hang around too long after taking this photo to find out. *brrr*
The Korean Cultural Office have kindly offered the chance for three lucky readers of the heart of food to attend one of their Korean cooking classes free of charge during their August/September program (normally valued at up to $70 per class).
In order to submit your entry into the competition, you will need to meet the following conditions of entry:
- Browse the KCO Cooking Class site (Aug/Sep) and pick a recipe that you would like to learn.
- Comment in this blog post with the dish you would like to learn and why.
- Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and include:
- Your name
- Copy & paste your comment from the blog post.
Judges from KCO, including cooking instructor Heather Jeong, will select three winners based on original, interesting and/or humorous comments. Only valid entries that meet the above criteria will be considered for judging.
The competition closes at 5pm, Friday 22nd July. Winners will be announced on the blog in the following week and will also be contacted directly by KCO via email. When making your submission, please use a valid email address as this address will be used to notify the winning entrants.
The competition is open to residents of Sydney only, or to anyone that is able to attend one of the available sessions during the August/September class schedule. Judges decisions are final and no discussions will be entered into.
the heart of food attended the Korean cooking class courtesy of the Korean Cultural Office.